Sunday, 1 April 2012

Easter – Sharing the Love

Easter comes and goes every year, and we buy and eat eggs, perhaps do an Easter egg hunt, or chase the Easter bunny. Always great to get some bank holidays too. But is that all that Easter is? Why do we celebrate Easter?

Beautiful Spring is all about rebirth, renewal and re-growth. Sunshine smiles down on us, and Easter is just around the corner, when we can look forward to Easter eggs. Happy days. The week leading up to Easter is known as Holy Week, and without Holy Week, there wouldn’t be Easter. So what is Holy Week, and where does Easter fit in?

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Holy Week is all about a journey, and it’s quite a trip. In fact, St Paul’s is beautifully decorated with flowers and interactive displays to help us think about that journey. Palm Sunday is the start of Holy Week, and it’s when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem to a huge welcome. People waved palm leaves. These days, we wave small palm crosses at St Paul’s on Palm Sunday. The combination of the cross and the palm help us think about our faith. A really joyous day, of high spirits, fun and a sense of expectation.

Maundy Thursday is next up. This is when Jesus had his last meal with his friends – the Last Supper. Maundy I think sounds like quite a sad word, but it isn’t at all. The word comes from the command ‘mandate’, which Jesus gave during the Last Supper, that  ‘we should love one another’. So whilst the Last Supper sounds sad, loving one another is a great command that I think most of us would agree with. For me, all the beauty we see at this time of year, having come out of a dull dark winter, makes loving others feel like a great thing to do. Perhaps give way to someone in the car, or let the lady with the screaming child jump the queue. So many ways to show our love. Back in the day, Jesus showed his love by washing the feet of his friends, knowing this was going to be the last time with them before he was crucified, on Good Friday. The Queen continues an ancient tradition of handing out Maundy money to people who have really helped out their communities, showing the love.

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Good Friday is an odd name for such a sad day. On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be anything good about Good Friday. Jesus was executed by crucifixion on the cross. Sounds like a pretty un-Good Friday, and not something to celebrate. But actually, the good in Good Friday is all about the sacrifice Jesus made and His victory over sin, death, and the devil. By giving himself up in the full knowledge of what He was about to go through, He sacrificed himself, on our behalf. He died on that cross, so that any wrong doings we might have committed, may be forgiven. Try as I might, I’m not perfect, and find myself being rude to people, or driving aggressively sometimes. These are bad things, maybe not the worst, but not showing the love either. Jesus went through that agonising pain, for the whole world's' wrong doings. Murder, adultery, theft, lying and persecution, are just some of the bad things he took on whilst dying on the cross. So whilst we won’t be dancing in the isles at St Paul’s, we will be thinking about the truly good deed Jesus did for us. You might see people from all the churches in Camberley in the afternoon, as we carry the cross around town, to remind people what the day is all about. When I eat hot cross buns on Good Friday, that cross on the bun helps me think about Jesus love for us.

Image courtesy of Ian Britton Easter Day. I know what you’re thinking. Easter eggs! Now we will be dancing in the isles on Easter day, before and after we tuck into our Easter eggs. That’s because an amazing thing happened. You see after Jesus body had been taken down from the cross, it was placed in a tomb, and a giant stone was rolled over the entrance. The amazing thing happened on the following Sunday, when that stone had been moved, the tomb was empty, and Jesus himself was seen alive by many people – the resurrection. God had raised Jesus from the dead. Awesome.

An Easter egg looks a bit like a stone, and rolls like a stone (thankfully it doesn’t taste like a stone). It’s a great symbol for Easter day. As I unwrap my Easter egg, I think about rebirth, renewal and re-growth – the resurrection of Jesus, just like the chick that hatches from an egg.

I thank God for the Easter bank holiday to relax and wind down, have fun with my family, and celebrate all that is good. Come and join in with the Easter journey at St Paul’s. We’d like to share the love, and maybe a few delicious Easter treats too!